NBC News is facing accusations of victim-shaming and intimidation as it scrambles to protect its legendary anchor Tom Brokaw, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by three different women.
On Tuesday, Variety reported that NBC News’ powerful standards and practices department, which sets editorial guidelines, mandated that any reports on the Brokaw accusations include that more than 100 current and former NBC News female staffers had signed a letter of support for the embattled newsman.
The New York Post reported Monday night that many women at NBC News had felt intimidated into signing the letter.
All this comes after Brokaw shamed his first accuser, former NBC correspondent and former Fox News anchor Linda Vester, in a scathing email which called Vester an embittered liar resentful that she did not become a star at NBC News. While many news organizations would look askance at such an attack, especially during the #MeToo era, NBC News appears to be giving Brokaw’s broadside tacit support.
According to The Washington Post, Brokaw, 78, made unwanted moves on Vester. The report also detailed the claims of an anonymous woman who said Brokaw acted inappropriately toward her during her time as a production assistant in the 1990s. Variety published similar claims. A third woman came forward on Tuesday accusing Brokaw of inappropriate behavior in the 1960s when he was a local anchor in Los Angeles.
Brokaw denied Vester’s allegations in a letter to colleagues that was shocking for its vitriol. The “NBC Nightly News” icon called his accuser “a former colleague who left NBC News angry that she had failed in her pursuit of stardom” and claimed she was “given the run of the Washington Post and Variety to vent her grievances.” He even mentioned that Vester had married a wealthy man.
NBC appears to be standing solidly behind Brokaw. The New York Post reported that NBC does not plan to investigate the accusations, and the campaign to sign the letter in support of Brokaw included some of NBC’s most powerful women, including Rachel Maddow, Andrea Mitchell, Mika Brzezinski and Maria Shriver. And then there are those guidelines from Standards and Practices.
University of Southern California employment law professor C. Kerry Fields told Fox News it “certainly” appeared that NBC wanted its coverage of the alleged harassment to be pro-Brokaw.